Updated 10 JAN 09
|Amplifier manufacturers - some of the greatest ones
Fender - Marshall - Vox at the end of this page
|The amplifiers from the vendors listed below, to my way of thinking, are some of the finest amps in the world today. The stores I have listed in regard
to some of these amps in another area of this website, are who I feel are a cut above most in terms of service and knowledge.
Some folks may label some of these amp makers as "boutique", or place other labels on them, but the bottom line is, they are some of the best
sounding, best built, best mechanically designed, amps made today.
For more information on the amp vendors below, click on the company name or photo in the logos, and you will be transported in many cases to
You may not find a lot of amps here but any of these are great ones and will make you very happy for decades.
The good Doctor has been around for many years, longer than many
realize, since about 1988. His amps derive little from others, his designs
and approach to amp design and tone are unique.
In a nutshell - great circuits, great construction, ease of use, rock solid
build quality, and fantastic user response and touch sensitivity are the
basic hallmarks of his design. If you want to see more on these
amps here CLICK HERE to get to another area of my website on
these amps. You will be able to head to the real Dr. Z website
from there also.
There are a lot of folks doing hand wired and PTP amps today. I will just
say here, that these are one of a handfull that are done properly. Many
PTP amps I support on tour work on stage, but that bus trip to the next
gig 300 miles down the road at 2am kills a lot of them. Not these.
These are "player's" amps. Vary the touch ... use your guitar's tone and
volume .... vary pick attack ... they all come through on these amps.
These amps do not have complex curcuit mazes as is used in many
modern designs that are a mess for the poor electrons to get through.
They have aspects that are done nowhere else, such as fixed bias
phase inverters, and conjuctive filters for a tone control. Each amplifier
model in the Dr. Z line is UNIQUE. Unlike many amp companys, Dr. Z
does not just build the same amp in different power levels or just add or
modify a channel or gain resistor here and there.
These amps have a very high level of harmonic content, so before you
buy one, play it. You may find that his "18" watt amps appear to be
much louder than amps at many times their published wattage.
As far as artist support - I cannot begin to list the all the folks all here
that use these amps. Check out Austin City Limits, VH1, CMT, the
Grammy awards or whatever ... you see a LOT of these amps out there.
Tone - Quality - Design.
Be sure to check out the Dr. Z Air Brake if you have a big loud amp that
only sounds good when cranked ... but the neighbors complain when
you crank it. Great in the studio too.
A top notch custom builder that works directly with the player.
Accurate and wonderful reproductions of the classic "Fender Tweed
Champ", Tweed Deluxe, Low Power Tweed Twin, Tweed Bassman, Black
Face Deluxe Reverb, and custom designs. I worked with Pierson a
co-design effort of one of my own designs. This is a 1x12 combo that
was designed for my favorite music style; 60s rock and hard electric
blues. I looked at many builders and he was the one that already used
the components I preferred but also had the build construction I
desired. This amp is a 20 watt 6V6 cathode biased amp that is turret
board wired that is custom order only at a cost of $2795.00. This guy
does it right.
The first amps of his that crossed my path were hand built, cloth
covered wire, top notch caps and sockets, and vintage tubes. The tube
compliment on one amp I checked out consisted of an RCA 6V6 and a
Telefunken 12AX7 ... pretty high end stuff to say the least. Pierson's
2x12 Bassbreaker and high power tweed twins are masterpieces.
For more info, just click on the Champ or Deluxe photo above.
Click on the logo above for more info.
I have three "tweed amp folks" on this page. Victoria, Pierson, and
Valvetrain. Redundant? Nope! Each has their own take on things and
each of them do things differently. (Click on the thumbnail above for a
cool big photo)
I first met Rick Gessner (Valve Train Amps) on a Joe Walsh project when
one of Valvetrain's "artist series" (the Classic 315 Golden Eagle) was
developed for Joe Walsh. I was later asked to be part of a project for a
Los Angeles major studio where they had their "holy grail" recording amp;
an original White. They wanted this amp virtually replicated and Rick
Gessner was called upon to accomplish the task. Speakers, cab,
transformers, and components / voltages ... paper in the speaker cones,
metal in the transformer. A total replication project was taken on at no
expense to be spared.
I later became involved at quite a deep level with Sam Austin (a heck of a
player and the head of GT Pro Audio) and Patrick Selfridge at GT
(another killer player) on a "Tweed Deluxe / 6L6 output tube version
which also had "Rick's twists on it". This was a great piece of work in a
gorgeous hardwood cabinet. Tortured Tweed! If you have a Fender
Relic guitar and want an amp to fit right in with it Valvetrain's upcoming
Tortured Tweed series is pretty amazing. I saw the prototypes of these
and the hours that go into one of these is just insane!
Valvetrain has four lines I guess one could say. Artist series, Classic
Series, Signature series, and Custom series. As I said earlier, I have
three "tweed folks" here but they all do things differently. Valvetrain has
many options, aluminium chassis, etched panels, and twists on original
circuits as options or in some amps as standard. The bottom line here is
that if you want a classic amp with the heart of the classics hit the logo
above and learn a bit more. In the end, each of these "tweed people"
have a lot to offer in their own different ways, all of them are great folks to
work with, build great products, stand behind their products, and are
really great to work with on anything from standard models to the most
A total smash at 2005 NAMM with the London and at the 2005 L.A. Amp
Show, then again in 2006 at NAMM and the L.A. Amp Show with their
new 35 watt Marqee Club, and then again at 2007 NAMM with their new
SoHo and Royal Albert. Dan Boul and Peter Stroud have come up with
winners with each model they bring out. You may have to wait in line for
these at times but they are worth the wait.
The London has been in heavy tour use for over two years with stellar
reliability. The amp is happy on a stage in any sized venue. With lower
stage volumes and large diaphragm studio mics the gospel for big tone
in large venues becoming the sonic standard players pick their amps
these days for tone a playability. The new 35 watt Marquee Club is an
obvious choice for players who want the magic of 65 Amp but in a higher
wattage amp with it's own unique feature set.
There are now more of these than I can count in studio use here in Los
Angeles and in Nashville. There is more on the London on the first
main page of this website but even more info on the 65 Amps website.
65Amps is something of a star in these days of one or more new amp
builders coming onto the scene every day. Most amp makers just
rehash the same designs that have been with us since I was a teenager.
Some of them make it to be "one hit wonders" for a particular model now
and then, most never make it this far. 65Amps has been written about in
a number of business publications as the example of somebody in this
business that believed a quality, with nothing held back in the name of
quality and tone as their primary milestone. They were able to do this
BUT at the same time built a growing and successful business. Their
customer service is equal in every way to their products.
Rather than be a "one hit wonder" with the 2005 or so London release,
they came out with the Marquee Club in 2006 and in 2007 with the 20
watt SoHo and their latest class A/B grid biased KT77 (EL-34 type) Royal
Albert. (By the way, if you use a 5Y3 rectifier in this amp you can use
6V6 tubes as well). In spite of the most recent models, the London is still
sought after and the orders continue to increase. If you want to read a
bit on my take on the London CLICK HERE. They have four models and
each one has been a home run. 65Amps has been the talk of the show
at NAMM in 2005, 2006, and 2007.
The current four models from my point of view are this:
London - Think of classic British sixties amps and tones. Vox AC-15 and
Marshall 18 watter. Great trem too as in the Marshall.
SoHo - A 20 watter that is a "go to" amp that covers the British tones and
American tones. Very versatile amp that is more of a seventies, eighties,
and todays more aggressive tones on tap as well.
Marquee Club - If you are looking for a very strong cathode biased EL84
amp that covers the Vox AC-30 tones and much more this is an amp to
look into. This amp is loved by many for live work where more headroom
and a higher level is required than the 18-20 watters, even the loud
ones such as the London and SoHo.
The Royal Albert - Classic British rock tones. Don't think this is just
another "Marshall" amp. This amp covers Marshall, Hiwatt, Orange and
is more Selmer than any of them. A versatile classic, so wide ranging
and strong that in 2007 Keith Urban has picked these amps for his tour
There is much more than I can say here on the 65Amps website. Click
on the name above or the logo to be sent directly to their website for a
lot more information. I could play with these amps for days on end. I
cannot begin to elaborate enough on these amps on this small page.
David Hayes Amplification
I have seen many Fender tolex amps over my time working with amps
and the work by David Hayes is arguably the best I have seen.
If you have a Fender amp that needs work or restoration he is the guy I
If you want a "new" Fender amp you should also contact him and talk a
bit. His one off pieces are works of art and use top notch components
and an attention to detail of workmanship that is second to none.
In his new amps there are a lot of options for things such as speakers
etc. and David works closely with the player. Mercury Magnetics, the
proper tone caps and other components come together to make a work
David is a straight ahead, down to earth, real cool guy without attitude or
His work is just terrific and I cannot really say any more than that.
The need for tweed?
To put it simply from my point of view, these are some of the most touch
sensitive amps in the world. That is some of what "tweed" is all about.
Mark's newer original designs kept this characteristic too!
In any guitarist's arsenal that is serious, one amp that is a must, is some
form of Fender type tweed era amplifier. This does not mean some
modern design with a tweed cabinet, this means the real deal.
So ... if you want to know more, just click on Victoria Amplifiers at the top
of this little piece of writing by the blue logo, and you will be sent to their
If you are looking for the "baddest twist on a Marshall" that is hand built
with a lot of easy to use features that was designed and built from the
mind and hands of a radical heavy player who understand what a hard
core rockers life (and not just his playing) is all about then this is the
amp to check out. This above is the "small block 100".... a quad of
6550s or KT88s in a small box head ... master volume, auto jumpering
of inputs, PTP wired, effects loop and MORE. This is one very bad-ass
amp that has an output that would push ashtrays off the club tables at
the back of the house if ashtrays were still allowed in clubs today.
Jimmy is a guy that will work with you to craft your monster and is one of
the guys that not only "gets it" but he lives it! If you are looking for a
great builders twist on a classic amp this is one to consider.
To put it simply, from my point of view, the Rivera amps are some of the
finest sounding and finest built channel switching amps today. They are
perhaps the only channel switchers that are voiced differently on each
channel; one American and one British. They are built like tanks, and
the latest Knuckleheads with the Headmaster switching system (much
more full featured than a Bradshaw type unit) give these amps a degree
of control that is nothing short of amazing.
Paul Rivera has been in the amp business since the 60s. He has
produced designs for Fender, Pignose, Yamaha, and many other
companies, as well as his own line of amplifiers.
His construction and attention to detail and design are second to none.
Look at the machine screws used with inserts to hold the cabinets
together and fasten the chassis.
If channel switching is a requirement, look at these amps.
Follow the link above for a bit more, and from there, follow the link to the
Rivera website. There is more here than what I can say!
Fargen was another of the rooms at the 2005 L.A. Amp Show that was
always packed. A number of models; all different and all incredible. I
was going to be "good" at the show and I intended NOT to buy another
amp. These things were too cool to pass up.
Fargen has models to fit most anybodies taste. If you did not look at
the photos on the first page of this website go back and do so. How
many guys do you know that use LOCKING nuts to hold things together
let alone stainless hardware? No wimpy screen resistors even in this
Bluebird, which is a 6V6 amp. You normally see resistors like these in
EL34 amps. There are also models which are not shown on the Fargen
website. Be sure to call or write them if you think of something you want
that you don't see. Fargen has a complete custom shop and they will
work with you to craft a superb amplifier.
The hardwood cabs done by JDesign are amazing. Jeff's patented
"add a baffle" (convert from a 12" to a 10" speaker or other choices) is
one of those "how come I never say anybody do this before" products.
These cabe are not only really gorgeous but sound just wonderful. His
pine open back 2x12 may be my next cabinet! A Blue 30 and H30
would be too much to turn by back on!
Click on either of the logos above to get right to their applicable website
for much more information!
There is a verfy cool review on some of the amps HERE
Matchless. A classic even though these amps were born in the late
eighties. The amp line included the original designs made in the same
way as in the beginning but there are new added models too. The amp
above is a three channel switcher. Try to find a channel switcher that is
built using the construction methods that these folks use. (If you think
of one please let me know!). On PTP hand wired amps I can only think
of the Dr. Z 6545, Mako, and Fargen NOS. The Matchless is the only 3
channel amp I am aware of.
These amps are classics. The are built in a superb way using the best
methods and components. These amps are seen on the world's stages
and have countless touring miles on them. In the studio? You bet. On
more records than I can begin to count.
These are one of the classics of today and tomorrow.
I will make something of a brash statement that will have a lot of folks up
in arms: These amps may be the finest bass amps I have ever
seen since I was first taken aback by the original Ampeg SVT.
There is really little else I can say here, click on the PJB logo above
where I say a bit more. From there you can move on to the official Phil
Jones Bass website and learn more.
Phil Jones Bass also supplies the finest instrument and speaker cables
that I have ever seen and used.
Mako Amps ....
How many channel switching amps can you name which are point to
point hand wired? Not a lot of them out there. Unless you have one of
these, a Dr. Z 6545, or the new 3 channel Matchless chances are your
channel switching amp is not a PTP wired amp. This amp and the Z
6545 are very different, so if you have enough money, one of each
would not be a bad deal at all!
Mako makes some pretty spectacular heads, combos, reverb units, and
These amps are straight ahead tonal masterpieces, without fanfare or
the latest "fad whiz bang flavor of the day funny business".
They are each hand built to extremely high standards, and use common
off the shelf tubes, and sound amazing. They were designed around
these tubes, to sound as they should sound. No need to find the best
hand picked NOS samples to make these amps perform!
The owner / designer at Mako and I have differing feelings on some
aspects of amp design in some areas, but the bottom line here, is that
whatever our personal views, they build terrific amps at a terrific price,
and I cannot fault that one bit.
Their components are the best you can find, and the workmanship is
AAA+++, or as we used to say in the boat building business, Lloyds
100A1. The transformers are even done in their own shop. This is
pretty rare these days.
The amps sound great, play great, hold up like tanks, and are cheaper
than many mass produced amps that cost much more.
Click on the Mako name at the start of this little blurb, at the top, to get to
the official Mako website. There is a lot of great info there.
THD and Andy Marshall, are the folks behind the "Hotplate", "Yellow
Jackets", and the most versitile sounding amps I have ever heard ... the
Univalve and Bivalve (the hits of the 2001 (Univalve) 2002 (BiValve 30),
2003 (Flexi 50 pre-release), 2004 (Flexi 50 and other products) NAMM
shows. Follow the link above for a few words about THD, and a link to
If you look at Harmony-Central, a number of folks have had a lot of nice
things to say about their products.
THD amps both received what may be some of the most flattering
reviews written about any amplifiers in most any publications. Their
Hotplate, Yellow Jackets, and transformers are well known in the industry.
By the way, a little known item is their Reactive Rectifier.
THD was formed around 1987, a very good year (Matchless, Dr. Z, and
THD were all born around this period. Where my interest was peaked
was when a friend of mine (and now my boss, Aspen Pittman, remarked
that the THD Tweed Bassman was perhaps the best sounding and
playing Tweed Bassman he had ever heard or played. This is really
saying something. Whether you agree with Aspen or not, you have to
admit that he has had acess to some of the world's greatest amps and is
in a good position to compare them. I think this statement has even
been printed in a number of GT's "The Tube Amp Book" versions.
Steve Carr designs and manufactures classic circuits using Class A
designs for the most part, but without the focus of using the EL-84 as
many Class A designers. His "Rambler" is a Class A design using 6L6's,
and his "Hammerhead" is a very high gain EL-34 based amplifier. He
also produces a unique class A/B amplifier. Carr amps are hand built
and use the finest components. His "Rambler" is one of the finest
"Blues" amplifiers I have heard.
These amps are of unique design, using the solid proven aspects of
past amp design, while adding some of Steve's own ideas. All of Carr's
amps have their own unique personality and sound. The Rambler for
example, is one style, a great blues amp. The Imperial is a BIG sounding
4x6L6 Class A amp with huge headroom but with warmth and feel. The
Hammerhead, a Class A amp, has five levels of gain and tone, while
being compact and versitile. The newest Carr amp is the 8 watt KT66
based Mercury, a tone masterpiece.
These amps are all point to point, but done properly, wires captive as an
example. Look at the end of a Carr Amp AC cord! I guarantee you will
not see another "plug" like this on any amp.
The Carr amps are one of my personal favorites that blend some of the
classic ideas and sounds with some of the new ideas such as channel
switching in some models and other features such as reverb and trem.,
These are just the ticket for some player's needs and style.
Based in Kent in the United Kingdom, Cornford Amplifiers are designed
and built by hand by Paul Cornford and Martin Kidd. Cornford has
quickly become the new voice in high-end guitar amplification, both live
and in the studio. These amps are painstakingly crafted from only the
best components and then finely tuned to produce their wonderful
Paul explains "We do things the way we do out of enormous respect for
tradition and how things were done for so many years. Plus there's a
genuine belief that this is the only way to achieve ultimate quality,
reliability and serviceability, and to build in that magic - not forgetting an
awesome tone. I want to hear a Tele go 'sprannng' when I plug it into
one of our amps, and I want to hear the difference between my PRS
Custom and my Gibson Les Paul, even with loads of dirt."
Have I lost my mind, some may gasp? What is a solid state amp, and a
modeling amp at that, doing on my website? Well, you have to
remember by basic quest when it comes to amps ... amps that are done
For more of the story on this and some of my viewpoints, CLICK HERE
|In many cases there is a LOT more detail on many of these amps
by clicking one of the buttons above or on the amp maker's name
Future amps to be listed here?
If you have an amp you feel should be here, let me know. The amp has
to be in current production, you need to be able to supply full details and
specs, and have at least six references that I can speak to, that use
these amps on a regular basis. This does not mean amps that are used
at home. These must be amps that are used on a regular basis, at least
once per week in a performing environment. These users also need to
play in more than one venue. Amps that are used once a week where
the player drives a few miles down the road to the venue, is not
sufficient. These amps need a history of travel in a touring situation
where many miles are covered each month.
I need to talk directly to the amp manufacturer, the end user of the amp,
and their amp tech.
Amps here sound right, play right, and hold up. There are many amps
that you may feel should be here, but due to shortcomings in one of
these areas kept them off this page.
Click HERE to return to main page
What ... no Fender, Marshall or Vox here?
There are great amps and there are amp companies that are icons.
One time I was asked ... "can't you design an amp that would be better than amps of the past?" Well ... maybe from a hifi point of
view with less distortion or a flatter response perhaps. BUT ... guitar amps are NOT hifi amps. They are guitar amps. The each
have their own character and color. It has never been the intension of any great amp designer of guitar amps to build an audio
amp that would be suitable for both of these uses.
Rock and amplified music came onto the scene in the fifties for the most part. Some bands were using electronic amplification in the
late forties but it was the fifties and then sixties that brought it all home. This is the sound and tone that we all grew up on no
matter what your age. Pick five great guitar tones from 1967. Now pick five from 2007. It is not as easy is it? The amps of the
past are truly the foundation of the great amps today. Stray too far from the foundation and you find countless amps that were
here today and gone tomorrow. Plexi Marshall ... Vox AC30 ... Fender Twin Reverb. What more can anybody say here.
The amp companies above are what many refer to as the Holy Trinity. They were great in their day. They were great in the past.
They are great today. All three of these companies laid the foundation, grew, learned more each year and advanced. They are all
still here today with great new models but also re-issues of the past classics that still hold the magic and will for decades to come.
Perfection does not go out of style.
I personally would like to thank these three companies for the tone I grew up on, amps I learned to play guitar on, and in many
cases, amps I still own today.
Fender, Marshall, Vox .... I don't have you here in my thoughts on "some of the greatest ones". That is because you are all a step
above being great. You were the foundation of everybody shown above. You are all still in business and doing great things today
with cutting edge new products, incredible reissues of the greatest amps of the past, amps that give new players a lot of value for
the dollar, and much more.
So thank you Fender, Marshall, Vox for all the great music you have brought into my life. Some of my amps from you people work
as well today as the day they were purchased AND many have been with me for more years than the combined years of all my
marriages. These amps also cost less than my marriages and helped me get through some of the most difficult times in my life.
Myles S. Rose
|To see what Fender, Marshall, and Vox are doing today just click the respective thumbnail and you will be redirected to their website
Andy Fuchs builds some of the most spectacular and respected amps on
the planet. The construction of these amps is first rate and I have no
concern AT ALL on sending any of his amps out on the road where
heavy use and travel is expected. Unfortunately I cannot make the same
statement on many other channel switching amps that flood me with
phone calls at all hours when they don't work after taking them off the
equipment truck. These amps are dead on reliable. As far as tone, I
really do not need to talk about this as these amps are legendary.
His ODS and Tripledrive series are known to a lot of folks but amps like
the Lucky 7, Blackjack 21 and Train-45 are also pretty spectacular for
folks that want lower wattage products that fit requirements of many folks
My particular favorite is his amp called "The Clean Machine". This amp
reminds me of the days when ashtrays were allowed on tables in clubs
and amps could move the ashtrays off the tables. Big clean tone,
spectacular reverb. This may be the ideal pedal platform. Channel
switching? If you have five distortion pedals this is now a five channel
amp! Get the idea? With today's trend in lower wattage cathode biased
amps for some things this amp may be just the ticket for a lot of folks that
have something more traditional in mind on tap and gain over the top
with the proper pedals as well. Click on the logo above for more info.